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5 early questions about Arizona softball’s now-final 2021 roster

COLLEGE SOFTBALL: MAY 06 Grand Canyon at Arizona
Dejah Mulipola
Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

An updated Arizona softball roster was posted on the official website Thursday, signaling that it is finalized for the much-anticipated 2021 season.

Here’s a look at the 22 players—sorted by year, then by position—as well as a starting lineup projection, five burning questions, and some additional notes.

By year

Redshirt seniors (7)

  • Jessie Harper, SS
  • Reyna Carranco, 2B
  • Mariah Lopez, RHP
  • Alyssa Denham, RHP
  • Malia Martinez, 3B
  • Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, OF
  • Dejah Mulipola, C

Redshirt juniors (2)

  • Hanah Bowen, RHP/UT
  • Peanut Martinez, OF

Redshirt sophomores (1)

  • Izzy Pacho, C

Redshirt freshmen (4)

  • Bella Dayton, OF
  • Alayna Hicks, INF
  • Janelle Meono, OF
  • Sharlize Palacios, C

Freshmen (8)

  • Aris Carroll, INF
  • Sophia Carroll, INF
  • Carlie Scupin, 1B
  • Jessie Fontes, RHP
  • Devyn Netz, RHP/UT
  • Jasmine Perezchica, OF
  • Allie Skaggs, UT
  • Giulia Koutsoyanopulos, UT

By position

Catchers

  • Dejah Mulipola, RS Sr.
  • Izzy Pacho, RS So.
  • Sharlize Palacios, RS Fr.

Infielders

  • Jessie Harper, RS Sr.
  • Reyna Carranco, RS Sr.
  • Malia Martinez, RS Sr.
  • Carlie Scupin, Fr.
  • Alayna Hicks, RS Fr.
  • Aris Carroll, Fr.
  • Sophia Carroll, Fr.

Outfielders

  • Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, RS Sr.
  • Peanut Martinez, RS Jr.
  • Bella Dayton, RS Fr.
  • Janelle Meono, RS Fr.
  • Jasmine Perezchica, Fr.

Utility

  • Allie Skaggs, Fr.
  • Giulia Koutsoyanopulos, Fr.

Pitchers

  • Mariah Lopez, RS Sr.
  • Alyssa Denham, RS Sr.
  • Hanah Bowen, RS Jr. (can also hit and play infield)
  • Jessie Fontes, Fr.
  • Devyn Netz, Fr. (can also hit and play infield)

My starting lineup projection (with 2020 stats)

  1. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, CF (.373 AVG, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 1.263 OPS)
  2. Reyna Carranco, 2B (.360 AVG, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .845 OPS)
  3. Jessie Harper, SS (.395 AVG, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 1.318)
  4. Dejah Mulipola, C (.311 AVG, 23 HR, 55 RBI, )*
  5. Malia Martinez, 3B (.333 AVG, 3 HR, 21 RBI, .961 OPS)
  6. Carlie Scupin, 1B (N/A)
  7. Sharlize Palacios, DP (.324 AVG, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .793 OPS)
  8. Peanut Martinez, LF (.239 AVG, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .829 OPS)
  9. Bella Dayton, RF (.302 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 10 SB, .770 OPS)
  • Ace A: Mariah Lopez (11-2, 1.38 ERA)
  • Ace B: Alyssa Denham (9-1, 1.92 ERA)

*2019 stats. Missed the 2020 season due to her commitment with the U.S. Olympic team.

5 early questions

  1. Who will be the designated player? There are so many options and no obvious frontrunner, but Sharlize Palacios will definitely be in the mix after hitting .324 as a freshman, and Hanah Bowen has a knack for getting on base. Keep an eye on PGF All-American Sophia Carroll too. She’s got a ton of pop.
  2. Which outfielders will emerge? Palomino-Cardoza is a surefire starter in center, but the corner outfield spots will be up for grabs. Peanut Martinez will have a leg up for one of them because of her experience, but she will need to produce at the plate to keep the younger players off her heels. Jasmine Perezchica, Janelle Meono, and Bella Dayton bring speed, while Allie Skaggs provides power.
  3. How deep will Arizona’s pitching staff go? Mariah Lopez and Alyssa Denham are good enough to lead the Wildcats to the Women’s College World Series, but they pitched too much in 2020, accounting for over 90 percent of Arizona’s innings. Bowen has been a serviceable bullpen option in the past, but the Wildcats have a chance to add another ace into the mix with PGF All-Americans Jessie Fontes and Devyn Netz. That would keep the staff fresh and allow Arizona to attack hitters with several different looks.
  4. Is Carli Scupin as good as advertised? Folks in town have been claiming for years that the Tucson High product is the next great UA slugger. Mike Candrea didn’t exactly dissipate that hype when he said Scupin has the quickest bat speed he’s ever seen. If she really is that good, she should be penciled in as the starter at first base after Ivy Davis transferred to Tennessee. With Scupin in the fold, Arizona could have four hitters eclipse the 20-homer mark in 2021, the others obviously being Palomino-Cardoza, Jessie Harper and Dejah Mulipola. Malia Martinez once hit 14 long balls in a season, so maybe she will join them too.
  5. Will Coach Candrea make a concerted effort to get the freshmen in the lineup? The downside of returning the seniors is that Arizona now has just three sophomores and juniors, only one of whom is a returning starter. Some very solid underclassmen like Davis, Marissa Schuld, Carli Campbell and Jenna Kean left the program this offseason in search of more playing time. It could mean 2022 will be something of a rebuilding year for Arizona softball. That is, unless the freshmen take the torch and run with it. That’s why getting them as many reps as possible in 2021, even if that means taking a loss here or there, could be the key to ensuring the future of Arizona softball is just as bright as the present.

More roster notes

  • Every UA player hails from California, Arizona or Texas, though Skaggs previously lived in Kentucky before moving to Arizona. The last UA softball player not from one of those three states was Aleah Craighton, a Louisiana native who joined the Wildcats in 2018 as a grad transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette.
  • Every returner is designated as a redshirt, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be in school for five seasons. Softball is an equivalency sport, meaning scholarships can be partial rides and it might not be financially feasible for some to stay for a fifth season, though they will all have that option.
  • A sixth-year senior, Palomino-Cardoza is listed as a “redshirt fifth year.” I’ve never seen that before!
  • It’s unclear who will be tabbed as the new graduate and undergraduate assistants. Those roles belonged to Mo Mercado and Rylee Pierce last season, respectively.